Fernie is a fun and vibrant mountain town located in the Kootenay Rockies region of interior British Columbia. Having not returned for a few years, my visit back reminded of what had attracted me to this funky ski-town in the first place – cute shops, quaint cafes, unique restaurants and loads of activities to take in both summer and winter. We only had a few days to jam as much in as possible and we wanted to do it all. As a result, this is a two part blog sharing the many adventures, explorations, and discoveries I got to experience during my visit to Fernie late this summer.
Downtown Fernie looks and feels like the authentic mountain town you expect. I`ve always been taken with the juxtaposed scene the toy-like town with its historic buildings, artisan shop-fronts, and alpine cafes creates against the rugged backdrop of the Lizard Mountain range. Walking around downtown, I was pleasantly surprised to see the addition of more diverse businesses since my last visit including a chocolatier and coffee roastery, a cheese shop, a few new restaurants, and new street-side patios at various dining establishments. The whiff of chocolate drew us into Beanpod right away but once we saw the impressive set-up and understood the complexity of being the only bean-to-bar company in Canada, we realized we were in no ordinary chocolate shop. After taking a dessert-first approach to dinner plans (really, is there any other way?), we set our eyes on one of Fernie`s well-revered restaurants, known to always please with its delicious authentic Indian cuisine – Tandoor & Grill at the Fernie Stanford Resort.
Walking around town you can`t help notice the diverse history of this tight-knit community. It is evident in its various memorials and new museum. A complete depiction of Fernie`s heritage, the museum cleverly displays the complex and fascinating history of the area including mining, the railway, skiing, and even beer brewing. The new Miners` Memorial walk in front of City Hall is an impressive outdoor homage to the heritage of this town. Visitors can walk through the interactive installation and learn about the history of mining in Fernie. I particularly enjoyed the visual aspects of the memorial and the many thoughtful sculptures that intermingled with its design. Fernie`s history even pops up at the Sunday Mountain Market where you can sort through a large collection of historic photos available for purchase and meet up with some of the long-standing community members selling fresh Fernie produce and local artisan pieces.
Feeling cultured and getting our foodie-fix, it was time to check out some of Fernie`s activities at Fernie Alpine Resort. The new Rippin’ Zipline is a fun activity for most but for someone like me who trembles standing on a chair, it was somewhat of a big feat to take on. My husband, the usual fearless soul, had no problem but I had to apologize numerous times to the encouraging staff who exhibited incredible patience as I slowly convinced myself that I had to trust and step off the platform. The scenery was amazing but honestly, I only took notice once I was standing on the ground since I had my eyes closed the entire way. In hindsight, it was a fun ride and I would certainly do it again and maybe even try the aerial park next time.
Known for its epic skiing terrain, the hiking, sightseeing, and mountain biking trails at Fernie Alpine Resort do not disappoint. The resort has a great assortment of beginner mountain bike trails and fairly new to the sport, I decided to take a lesson from someone other than my husband. With the first `parking lot` component of my lesson, it was evident that Heather knew what she was talking about and her instruction was clear and customized to what she could see as my weaker areas.
On-mountain, Heather dynamically coached me all the way through the trail – sometimes leading on her bike and other times getting off or following behind to watch my technique. Not an adrenaline junky at all, I felt comforted hearing she totally understood my apprehension sometimes on the trails and was terrific at ramping up the coaching at technical spots. She even got me to commit to a small drop that I probably would have walked around if I was ‘sans-Heather’.
After the lesson, Heather told me about a 60 year old woman she had recently successfully coached to ride the trails even though she had never really ridden a bike in her life and was petrified to ride up the lift. Heather made a great point and noted that the lift-accessed trails are a valuable tool for beginner mountain bikers as they can practice riding the same trail over and over again without exhausting themselves going up (unlike cross-country riding) and instead can focus on slowly building up the skills and confidence to master any biking techniques.
Fernie is no doubt a place for everyone to find some entertainment and enjoyment, no matter what age or ability. The surroundings are beautiful and it’s a great stop, even if just for a day or two. Stay tuned for Part 2 of my fun adventure in Fernie, BC!